President Barack Obama delivered a 40 minute speech to the United Nations Tuesday. He covered just about every foreign policy hot-button issue from Syria to Iran to the Israeli Palestinian debate. Jon Weinstein has more from New York City.
NEW YORK CITY, N.Y. -- Looking to reset a relationship that's been fractured for more than 30 years, President Obama told the UN general assembly he wants to test a diplomatic path towards a deal for Iran to swear off nuclear weapons. He described his correspondence with new Iranian President Hasan Rouhani.
"While the status quo will only deepen Iran’s isolation, Iran’s genuine commitment to go down a different path will be good for the region and for the world," Obama said.
But the president says nice statements aren't enough.
Obama said, "Conciliatory words will have to be matched by actions that are transparent and verifiable."
But the reception for Iran and its new President was much less cordial outside the UN. Protesters railed against Rouhani and the religious Ayatollahs who hold real power, saying they're responsible for human right violations including the death of activists.
"We believe the Iranian regime is the same as long as there's a theocracy in the country."
The president also challenged the UN to enforce a chemical weapons ban on Syria, citing the horrific nature of those weapons and evidence the Assad government used them against its own people.
"The Syrian government took a first step by giving an accounting of its stockpiles. Now, there must be a strong Security Council resolution to verify that the Assad regime is keeping its commitments. And there must be consequences if they fail to do so," Obama said.
And the president says restarting the Palestinian Israeli peace process is critical for the entire Middle East.
Obama said, "Peace will be a powerful tool to defeat extremists throughout the region and embolden those who are prepared to build a better future."
The President warned those wishing for less American engagement world affairs, saying that would lead to a leadership vacuum that no other country is ready to fill.